Some weeks ago, I was chatting with zaiah online (which, by the way, is great fun, and I heartily recommend it), and she directed me to an online work of fiction called The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect.
The last time someone did that, I lost many hours' sleep. That time, it was Shelly, who discovered the (very long) online novel John Dies At the End, one of the best pieces of amateur fiction I've ever read and a work that sucked up several of my nights. (I was up until nearly sunup reading at one point...but I digress.)
At any rate, The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect is a neat little transhumanist (or, really, anti-transhumanist) story, that echoes some of the themes of Iain M. Banks' "Culture" series--Look to Windward, The Player of Games, and so on--but from a very different angle.
It's a good read. datan0de, zensidhe, and serolynne, you guys in particular might like it...though you may find yourselves disagreeing with the author about the inability to find meaning in a virtualized world, as I did.
By the way, this is not a story for the squeamish. Extremely graphic and explicit sex, some of which is more than a little bizarre.
The idea that people cannot find meaning if they live in an environment where all their needs are met instantly, and that human meaning is only possible against a backdrop of struggle and death, is not a new one in science fiction, and I wonder why that is. I personally do not believe that my lifew is given meaning only by death; in fact, quite the opposite--death robs life of meaning, by destroying all those experiences that make us who we are.